On Line Characterisation of Particulate Suspensions Using a Multi-sensor Approach

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Professor R A Williams with Dr Yanmin Zhang
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United Kingdom

Following completion of the review, experimental work and design stages of the first year of our work, significant developments have since occurred in moving towards providing new sensing strategies to enable on line measurements in concentrated and, using different approaches, for dilute flowing mixtures. Over the last year we have been concerned with the two main tasks of designing and testing instrumentation for these purposes.

For concentrated systems - use of conventional electrical tomographic measurement method coupled with analysis of raw and reconstructed data using new statistical methods have been employed. This has been used with some success to quantify mixture properties (structural homogeneity, concentration fluctuations etc). Results are reported for solid-liquid pastes, liquid- liquid and gas-liquid mixtures. This has demonstrated that some interesting and, we believe, unique applications exist using such an approach to enhance quality control procedures in manufacturing plants and processes. It is proposed that direct feedback of the outputs from the measurement and interpretation software could be implemented as part of a control scheme.

For dilute systems - a new multi-sensor approach The Particle Gymnasium has been proposed and recently a test system has been built. Ultimately this is intended to provide a means of particle shape and size measurement in a rapidly flowing stream. Preliminary results show that the method appears to be viable and work can now continue to consider particulate systems of specific interest to IFPRI members working in crystallisation and controlled formation.

During the period under review, discussions and visits have taken place between several industrial members to consider and identify measurement needs. A forward project plan is in place. In future this will include an opportunity to assess the benefits to be gained by incorporating additional sensors (including ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging). Further fabrication and testing of the two types of sensor systems for dilute and concentrated suspensions is planned in conjunction with industrial members in the year ahead. This will begin to define the practical performance of the sensing methods.